TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -
The Big Bend Anti-Bullying Task Force convened by Rep. Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda (D-Tallahassee) will launch its Anti-Bullying public awareness campaign on Tuesday, January 25 with the public screening of “Bullied: A Student, a School and a Case that Made History,” at 6:30 p.m. in the TCC Turner Auditorium (444 Appleyard Drive). The film’s director/producer Bill Brummel is expected to attend and participate in a panel discussion following the 45-minute documentary. Admission is open and free to the public.
“Many cities across the country are grappling with ways to address the high suicide rates among young people who are targets of bullying,” said Rep. Rehwinkel Vasilinda. “This public awareness effort and the role of the Anti-bullying Task Force are to ensure that our community is well informed about the extent to which bullying can be devastating to all of our children and what we need to do locally to address it,” she said. The Task Force also aims to prompt community and legislative leaders to reevaluate anti-bullying laws and to guarantee they are enforced.
Studies have shown that bullying has played a significant role in many school shootings in recent years and that efforts should be made to eliminate bullying behavior. Film maker and producer Bill Brummel explains his documentary offers and inspiring message for those facing bullying and harassment today. “It’s designed to help students understand the terrible toll bullying can take on its targets and to encourage students to stand up for their classmates who are being harassed,” Brummel said about the film. "It's also intended to help administrators, teachers and counselors create a safer school environment for all students,” he said.
The film chronicles the real story of a student who stood up to his tormentors and filed a federal lawsuit against his school district leading to a landmark federal court decision that holds school officials accountable for failing to stop student harassment and abuse.
Florida’s anti-bullying law (HB669) passed in 2008 protects K-12 students and employees from bullying and harassment during all public K-12 programs, sponsored activities, transportation and technological communications. The bill is referred to as the “Jeffrey Johnston Stand Up for All Students Act” in memory of a Florida teen bullied chronically at school and online until he was driven to suicide.
“We hope our event will raise widespread awareness of the issue of bullying in our schools,” said task force member and Tallahassee Chief of Fire Cindy Dick. “We need to ensure our children are learning to treat each other with respect and celebrate their differences.”
“This public awareness campaign builds on other efforts such the Bullying 2010: Developing A Community Response sponsored by FAMU’s Dept. of Social Work,” said Rep. Rehwinkel Vasilinda. “We are planning future public awareness events and programs in partnership with our Task Force members.” Chief of Fire Cindy Dick, film maker Bill Brummel and Rep. Rehwinkel Vasilinda will be joined at the panel by Leon County Public Schools student board member LaCrai Mitchell; Dr. Jay Reeve, President & CEO of Apalachee Center, Inc.; labor and employment attorney Holly Dincman of the Tallahassee law firm Coppins Monroe Adkins & Dincman; and moderator Pat Smith, Press Secretary for the Florida Department of Children & Families.
To suggest a program focus for a future event, or for more information on the Task Force and the film screening, please contact Rep. Rehwinkel Vasilinda’s office at (850) 488-0965 or by email at Michelle.Rehwinkel@myfloridahouse.gov.